Dublin: BREAKING the SILENCE: 9: New Government Must End The Shameful Neglect Of Marginalised & Impovrished Estates, Children & Communities

11 Feb




 Lost Children in the Wilderness ©



By J. P. Anderson (International registered copyright of the author 2006)
Lost Children in the Wilderness ©
By J. P. Anderson (International registered copyright of the author 2006)


 Prevention of child and adolescent psychiatric disorders:

 The prevention of child and adolescent mental health disorders can be conceptualised as having three layers (Graham et al, 1999):


Primary prevention tries to stop a disorder occurring by removing the cause.



Secondary prevention tries to stop the disorder at its onset, and prevent its extension.


Tertiary prevention tries to limit disability from an established disorder.

In the realm of public health, nine areas have been identified which, if improved upon, should lead to increased mental well-being among children.

These are:

Poverty alleviation, 2. Increasing neighbourhood unity, 3. Good housing, 4. Increasing employment, 5. Good child protection from abuse and neglect, 6. Accident prevention, 7. Education, 8. Services to reduce marital disharmony, 9. Reducing alcohol consumption.

 Specific primary prevention measures by health and other professionals can be conceptualised in terms of life stages.

These sub-divide into six intervention phases:

1. Preparation for parenthood, 2. Antenatal care, 3. Birth and postnatal period, 4. Pre-school period, 5. Middle childhood, 6. Adolescents.

The quality of services provided during each of these six life stages by health and other professionals will impinge on mental health.

Secondary prevention tries to identify the presence of a disorder at onset and, by providing an appropriate therapeutic intervention, prevent it getting more serious.

Tertiary intervention tries to limit the secondary disability that arises from the presence of an established disorder.

At the levels of secondary and tertiary prevention, the provision of comprehensive, effective services working with families and other professionals who have contact with the child is all important.

Children at risk of psychiatric disorder:
Research has shown that there are increased rates of psychiatric disorder linked to the following factors.

 Social factors:

Children in urban (city) areas usually have twice the rate of disorder of their ‘rural’ peers.

 Children who live in environments characterised by unemployment, family discord, family violence, family break-up, social disadvantage (discrimination, isolation, homelessness, immigration) and traumatised circumstances have increased rates of disorder.

Children who come to the notice of community-care social services because of child care and protection concerns-and in particular because of confirmed physical, sexual or emotional abuse or neglect – have increased rates of disorder.

Children in care (I, e; being cared for by a relative, or in foster care, children’s homes or a secure-unit), have significantly increased rates of disorder.

Children of families who are experiencing discrimination, a result of their cultural or ethnic background are more vulnerable to mental health problems. In Ireland, this specifically includes the Travelling community and refugees.

Other conditions:
(Authors note: Quoted from; A better future now. By courtesy of the Irish College of Psychiatrists).

 Neurotic delinquency:

The neurotic delinquent suffers from deep anxiety, intense insecurity, and often pervasive guilt. For such a boy, criminal behaviour is a way of expressing an unresolved conflict and offers release from anxiety.

His behaviour stems from deeply imbedded psychological causes, rather than from a simple acceptance of a gang- culture as a means of winning prestige.


The neurotic child often commits his crimes alone and usually commits only a single type of crime. The juvenile arsonist, sexual offender, or narcotics addict, usually comes from the ranks of *neurotic delinquents.

Neurotic delinquents generally emerge from a more middle-class conventional environment, their families exhibit severe emotional strain, and their parents are usually neurotic or *psychotic.

Some studies have described the neurotic delinquent as possessing a ’relatively weak ego’ and as tending to isolate himself from other people, particularly other children.

Because their reformation depends upon a profound reorientation in character neurotic delinquents more often continue their criminal behaviour into adulthood.

(* Authors note; Neurotic= in a bad nervous state; Psychotic= any grave illness of mind.)

Depersonalization and anonymity:

As urbanization increases, the face-to-face social controls of traditional society begin to loose their importance.

In a rural, economically stagnant, village-based society, every person is subject to the scrutiny of his immediate community, (the valley of the squinting windows). In an urban environment, however, human relationships become more depersonalised and anonymous.

The person feels, and is freer to act as an individual, rather than as a member of a closely-knit community.

One consequence of this greater freedom may well be that the individual feels and is less inhibited about experimenting with various forms of deviant behaviour, including crime.

In modern industrialised civilizations, people live in a fast-moving, exciting atmosphere-in a society broken into atomized, mobile and depersonalised groups.

Traditional social-controls loose their influence; the emphasis on competition puts extreme pressure on those individuals who have the least chance of success, for example, ethnic minority groups and members of the lower-classes.

In consequence, an increasing proportion of youth turn to delinquent behaviour.

Within an industrialized civilization, the chance that a child will become delinquent varies considerably according to his particular social position.

Among the more important of these variations, the following contrasts are worth noting.

Boys have a much higher rate of delinquency than do girls. In most modern societies, approximately five-times as many males as females become juvenile offenders.

Boys in an industrialised society are traditionally reared by their mothers, compared to children in peasant families; they have relatively little opportunity to identify with their fathers or to copy masculine forms of behaviour.

At the age of puberty, however, they are expected to become men, and also to shift their identification from mother to father, this dislocation creates severe strain for boys.

In an attempt to assert their masculinity, boys may well turn to delinquent behaviour. In contrast, girls continue to identify with their mothers and do not suffer the same ‘crises of identity that boys do.

Thus, a girl who experiences the same frustrations that my produce a delinquent boy might well assert her femininity in promiscuous behaviour, but would be unlikely to turn to burglary or aggressive crimes.

However, the incidence of female delinquency has increased and the gap in rates of crime between boys and girls has narrowed.

Rural communities generally have about one-third the rate of delinquency of urban areas. The greater cohesiveness of rural communities, the closer social control, and a greater intimacy between police and citizens probably account for this contrast.

Rural rates of delinquency have, however, gone up at the same pace as urban rates, and as the urban patterns of life infiltrate even the most remote farming areas, the rural-urban difference becomes far less striking.

Most importantly, delinquency has concentrated heavily in lower-class, deteriorated, slum areas.

The incidence of delinquency in the most economically-deprived areas is 55 times that found in privileged suburbs.

The parents of delinquent children, either fail to give their sons any supervision at all, or tend to discipline them in a severe, often erratic fashion.

Children raised under a regime of strict but inconsistent discipline have the highest incidence of delinquency.

A cohesive, loving home tends to compensate for the influence of a delinquent sub-culture.

The majority of children rose in a transitional slum area (but who live in a normal family) do not become delinquents.

The effects of a father’s absence, neglect or cruelty on his son seem to depend largely upon the mother’s attitude.

If the mother loves, the child is not likely to become delinquent.

The nature of the parents discipline upon the child, does not affect the likelihood of the child’s involvement in criminality, but the consistency of its imposition does.

Predictions made in early childhood and upon the background of the child’s family, have an extraordinary degree of accuracy in later years.

The psychological roots of delinquency are deeply enmeshed in modern society and the family.

Delinquency is part of the price industrial society’s pay for their individualistic affluence and for the freedom of adolescents from the protection of close supervision by adults.

Mothers of delinquents generally reject and neglect their sons.

One study showed that seven times as many delinquents as non-delinquents had been reared by mothers who either felt indifferent toward their children or actively rejected them.

Another study demonstrated that a boy’s chance of serving a sentence in a penal institution was increased by four times, if his mother had neglected him in childhood.

In addition, mothers of delinquents, have a much higher rate of crime and other forms of social deviance.

Fathers of delinquents are much more likely to have records of crime, alcoholism, or mental disorders. Thus, to the degree that the child tends to copy his fathers actions, the boy’s chances of delinquency are increased. Delinquent families are rent with parental discord (fighting), bitterness and even hatred.

One of the first and the worst experiences of the delinquent child are to see his parents engaged in acrimonious quarrels.

Not un-naturally, he learns to suspect the motives and good-will of the people around him.

Studies have shown that the boy raised in a broken home in the USA has about twice the chance of becoming delinquent as a boy rose in a cohesive home. If the parents remain together, but engage in constant conflict, the boy’s chance of becoming delinquent is even further increased.

Vicious Circle of Child Crime

In Ireland, during 2002, children carried out 400 serious offences including;

Two murder threats; one manslaughter; forty-four offences by under 14 year olds; three homicides; thirty-six serious assaults; nine serious drug offences; 178 thefts; and 98 burglaries: prosecution of juveniles are also rising, up from 3,018 in 2001 to 3,308 in 2002; Of the 391 juvenile offenders in 2002, 367 were male, representing 94% of the total.

(Former) Labour Party spokesman on justice, Mr Joe Costello. T.D said the problem of juvenile crime needs urgent attention. … The State has failed to respond and “these juveniles will go on to become adult criminals unless something is done. … The lack of facilities to address the emotional, educational and psychological problems of children who are at risk, is a disturbing factor which arises in many of these cases when they come before the Children’s Court“.

The number of serious crimes committed by children under the age of 16 years rose by 70% in 2002, according to Garda figures.

The total of offences committed by young offenders topped 10,000, highlighting the growing extent of lawlessness among juveniles.

In 2003, the Prison Authority Interim Board complained to Justice Minister, Michael McDowell, that the committal of ‘children’ to jail “appeared to be a growing trend”.

The Board expressed its concern about the detention of young boys, including non-offenders, in prison on foot of court orders.

“Of course we’re very concerned about any incidence of juvenile crime, but there is a reduction in the number of people going to *detention centres.” Minister of State for Children, Mr Brian Lenihan T.D, said.

(*Authors note: see half-full-half-empty; Children in State Care).

He argued that facilities are not always full, despite limited places being available for under-16 year olds, at Oberstown Boys Centre, Oberstown Girls Centre,

The Trinity House Detention Centre and the Finglas Children’s Centre. “The practical reality is, half of the facilities are empty”, the Minister said.

However, the one facility which does not have a difficulty in providing places of detention is St Patrick’s Institution, (Prison), a centre for 16 to 21 year-olds. Where the Prison’s Governor, John Lonergan, asks – “What’s the point in putting 16 year-olds into St Patrick’s, unless we tackle the ‘root causes’ of their problems”?

While, Junior Justice Minister, Mr Willie O’Dea. T.D, put his point across like this, “There are parents – I am dealing with them every day, in my constituency – who don’t give a two-penny dam, what their kid’s get up to”.

According to an editorial in the Irish Examiner newspaper. “An explosion of teenage crime, fuelled by drugs and alcohol is now ’breaking’ on our society”.

The Chief Justice, Mr Justice Ronan Keane, believed that ’fatherless homes’ lead to child crime’.

The countries top judge blamed the ‘dysfunctional family’ as being at the very root of the youth-crime problem. “The absence of the father role, is a very serious matter in society – it affects children very badly, that there is no settled male figure in their lives” he said.

Anti-Social Behaviour Orders:

The Criminalising of Children!

Justice Minister, Mr Michael McDowell’s proposals to introduce Anti-Social Behaviour Orders (ASBOs) as an addition to the arsenal of tried, failed, cheap, underhanded and unworkable laws aimed at criminalising children, rather than setting the face of the policy-makers to challenge the root causes of the distress which afflicts many young people that come before the courts, or otherwise may come to the attention of the authorities.

The main reason why these children end up ‘in trouble with the law’ is simply, in the majority of cases, that the state did not look after either them, their parents or their grandparents when ’they most needed looking after’ but alas, now the horse has gone.

The new legislation does not attempt to deal with the root-causes of anti-social behaviour and crime and offers only a repressive crack-down on young people in a cynical effort to scapegoat children for the problems which were created by a state neglectful of its duty to its citizens since its foundation.

If the Government were serious about ending the current problem of childhood anti-social behaviour, first and foremost they would end their-own shameful neglect of the many impoverished working-class and much marginalised estates which abound within the state, in spite of Ireland’s recent economic success.

ASBOs were introduced in Britain in 1998 by the Labour Party.

The past few years has seen a rapid increase in their use – some 2,600 such orders were served in 2003.

About 50 children a month are being incarcerated. (British Youth Justice Board).

In practice, courts grant 97% of ASBOs applied for.

An ASBO is a civil order that can be applied for by the police, local authority or can be imposed by a court after sentence.

The breath of ’anti-social behaviour’ as defined under Jack Straw’s Crime and Disorder Act 1998, means that you can be served with an order if you have behaved in a way ’likely to cause alarm harassment or distress’.

*This definition has led to a large number of diverse cases including ASBOs banning a woman from trying to commit suicide, a man with mental health problems from sniffing petrol and a woman from going into her garden in her underwear, in this case the local ASBOs unit handed out diaries to her neighbours in order for them to record ‘exactly’ when she was seen in her underwear, which suggests state sponsored voyeurism and gives an entirely new meaning to Neighbourhood Watch.

(Authors note: *see conduct disorder and antisocial personality disorder).

Almost half of the orders imposed on the mainly youthful population are breached and more than half of those who breach an order go to prison.

There, they will receive little or no rehabilitation and the prisons are already full.

These prison institutions are expected by many to soon resemble the ’poor houses’ of old housing, those ‘undesirables’ of low or no class, including beggars, prostitutes, drug and alcohol addicts and the mentally-ill, who are being cleared off the streets through the use of ASBOs.

The experience of the use of ASBOs in Britain is that more young people are been sent into prisons. The results has meant that more young people are drawn more deeply into drug abuse, crime and more serious crime, also they are lacking in education and employment and life opportunities, leaving them even more vulnerable to the lures of deviant lifestyles.

In Ireland, the imposition of ASBOs may well undermine a broad range of community based projects aimed towards youth diversion and may also undermine the operation of The Children’s Act, which states that ‘custodial sentences’ should only be imposed as a last resort.

Once Anti Social Behaviour Orders (ASBOs) are introduced in Ireland, the steps to be followed are:

Series of ’Street Warnings’

Good Behaviour Contract (GBC) singed by parents and child/youth

Monitoring of Behaviour

Possible Renewal of (GBC) if Breached

Referral to Garda Diversion Programme

Formal Caution

Application by Local Superintendent for ASBO

Parent/s and child/youth in Court

If Order Breached, Criminal Offence Results

Children’s Act Comes into Play

Possible Re-Admission to Garda Diversion Programme

10 – 12 year olds Subject To ’Good Behaviour Orders’

Over 14 year olds Subject to ’Anti-Social Behaviour Orders’

Parents Bound Over To Ensure Child/Youth Stops Offending

Parent/s Warned That ASBO Renders Child/Youth Subject To Criminal Prosecution.

(Authors note: By this time the offending child/youth, should be getting the FREE BUS- PASS as an OAP).

Drugs and Human Rights


The issue of drugs and human rights is complex:

First, it entails the extent to which Governments are involved in using drugs to undermine – The ‘Right To Life’ and to – ‘Social Opportunities’ of unflavoured or less-favoured groups, including minorities in and outside their borders, – by making drugs available to members of such groups.

The United States, for example, was accused in 1995 and 1996 by members of its Black Community, of channelling drugs to their neighbourhoods. Similar charges have been made against the United Kingdom by some members of the Irish Catholic Community in Northern Ireland.

Second, the issue involves anti-drug policies of Governments that sometimes discriminate against members of ‘less-favoured social groups’ or other disadvantaged communities.

Since the norms of human rights require equality of treatment and non-discrimination, targeting members of certain communities (Gays, Blacks, Political Dissidents, Religious, Linguistic, Cultural or other groups, is a clear violation of human rights.

The frequency of arrests and prosecutions, as well as the severity of punishment inflicted on members of such communities – when compared to members of the more socially favoured communities, – testifies to such discrimination throughout the world.

Other abuses of human rights in relation to drugs are well known, including the ‘frequent violation’ of the right to privacy in civil-rights conscious countries, such as the United States and the United Kingdom.

Article 33: of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). States:

“Parties shall take all appropriate measures, including legislative, administrative, social and educational measures, to ‘protect children from the illicit use of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances’ as defined in the relevant ‘International Treaties’ and to prevent the use of children in the illicit production and trafficking of such substances”.

In December 1985, The General Assembly of the United Nations expressed its deep concern at the constant upward trend in illicit traffic in – and abuse of – drugs ‘which poses serious dangers for individual human rights and for the economic, cultural and political structures of society.

It reaffirmed that maximum priority must be given to the fight against the illicit production of, demand for, and traffic in, illicit drugs and related international criminal activities, such as, the illegal arms trade and terrorist practices, which also have an adverse effect, not only on the well-being of peoples but also on the stability of institutions, as well as posing a threat to the ’sovereignty of states’.

In 1986, addressing the General Assembly of the United Nations. The Secretary-General of the UN – included the following remarks on the subject of the drug problem. … “The humanitarian dimensions of the drug abuse phenomenon are painfully clear, – including the crippling of the drug-dependent person, the burden on family members, and the high social costs in terms of absenteeism, required medical care and in growing numbers, drug-related deaths, reflecting wasted lives.

In addition, the siphoning of significant human and financial resources, seriously affects economic and social development.

One of the most tragic aspects, is the devastation brought by drug abuse to the younger generation, – as thousands of young lives are irreparably damaged or lost to “this terrifying social blight”.

Children with language and communication problems have three times the general population prevalence of psychiatric disorder.

Children with specific developmental disorders (e, g; dyslexias and dyspraxias) have increased rates of disorder.

Children with intellectual disability (I, e; an IQ less than 70) have two to four times the general population prevalence, with an increased prevalence as the severity of the intellectual disability increases.


Children who have been physically or sexually abused, or both, have an increased prevalence of psychiatric disorder, with rates probably three times higher than in the general population.

The precise rate is influenced by the severity of the abuse and the family supports available following abuse.

Children whose parents have a psychiatric illness, or an alcohol or drug misuse problem, show increased rates of disorder.

This risk is related to the effects of the parent’s difficulties, and on their ability to provide a safe and appropriate caring environment for their child or children.

Physical illness and disability:

Children with a chronic illness have twice the general population prevalence of psychiatric disorder; while with both a chronic illness and a physical disability have prevalence three times that of the general population.

Children with brain disorders, especially epilepsy and head injury, have five times the general population prevalence of psychiatric disorder.

Prevalence of childhood psychiatric disorders:

It is often the case that the data required to assess the need for services are not readily available.

We are fortunate; however, to have reliable information on the prevalence of psychiatric disorders in childhood and reliable information on vulnerability factors in the population, based on international and Irish research findings.

The incidence and prevalence of mental and behavioural disorders in childhood increase with age. Overall, 20% of children have a disorder at any one time; 10% will have a mild disorder, 8% will have a moderate to severe disorder and 2% will have a disabling disorder.

There is an equivalent of mental health disorder in the child as in the adult population.

Among younger children, boys have more disorders than girls, but this evens-out by middle to late adolescence.

Child and adolescent psychiatric disorders encompass a broad range, from psychosis, depression and eating disorders, through anxiety and attachment disorders, to autism and *pervasive ( * Authors note; ‘universal’)

Developmental disorders.

Diagnosis of a childhood psychiatric disorder requires detailed assessment and observation, which build up a picture of problems and symptoms and the impairments which result.

A number of factors are considered in assessing the significance of a mental health problem or disorder: its severity, complexity and persistence; the risk of secondary handicap; the state of the child’s development; and the presence or absence of protective factors, risk factors and stressful social factors. …

Estimating need:

As child and adolescent psychiatric services are specialist services, it is the 8% of children with moderate / severe and the 2% of children with disabling disorders who should be referred to them.

As many disorders are often undetected in the community, these numbers are not always evident at the level of specialist services.

Estimates of prevalence can be used to enable services to estimate the level of undetected disorder.

For example, one would expect to see 1547 cases of ADHD / hyperkinetic disorder in an area with a population of 340,000.

If the services in this area see 300 cases, there are approximately 1247 undetected cases in the community.

While many of these may be milder than the referred cases, severe undetected disorder can have major consequences for the child, the family, the school and community.

Measures to improve detection of these disorders in the community could include educational initiatives for community-based professionals (e, g; family doctors, teachers and social workers).

This type of initiative may bring about an increase in the number of cases being referred to child and adolescent psychiatric services, which could in turn bring about even greater pressure on existing services, unless they are adequately resourced. …


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